Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the UK with over 11,500 women dying from the disease in 2016 alone.
It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and affects hundreds of thousands of lives every single day.
Research into the causes, preventions and treatment of breast cancer is still ongoing but that doesn’t stop the circulation of myths and mistruths that are constantly retold and created by the media. Every day we’re presented with a new cause for breast cancer, from milk to using the wrong deodorant, over the course of time, everything will somehow be linked to cancer and its causes.
Here at Boobuddy, we want to help bring clarity to breast cancer, and clear up a few myths that are all too often believed. We’re breaking down the myths one at a time and presenting you with the truth.
Myth 1 – Breast cancer is a hereditary disease
This myth is only partly true. Around 5-10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, the other 90% are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors.
This myth is dangerous because it causes worry and stress for those who have a family history of breast cancer. This may lead them to believe there is nothing they can do to prevent breast cancer if it is already in their family. Those who do have a family history can undergo genetic testing which will help them to understand their individual inherited risk.
Some women who do have a strong family history of breast cancer and who are deemed high-risk opt for a prophylactic mastectomy to decrease their risk.
Myth 2 – Only women get breast cancer
Although breast cancer is more prevalent in women, men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Just like women, men have breast tissue too, although it is much less than women. Around 390 men are diagnosed each year in the UK with breast cancer, with this typically affecting older men.
Because there is less awareness around male breast cancer, this makes the mortality level higher, simply because men are less likely to check their breast tissue for lumps and therefore delay treatment
It is important to regularly check your breast tissue for any lumps or irregularities.
Myth 3 – Drinking milk causes breast cancer
Because of the hormones that are naturally found in milk, or dairy, many believe that this has a negative effect on our bodies and is a cause of breast cancer.
A lot of research has been conducted into this topic with researchers finding no evidence that milk or any other dairy product causes or increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
Myth 4 – Some cosmetics can increase your risk of developing breast cancer
Rumours about deodorants, face creams and shower gel being linked to breast cancer started many years ago in an email hoax. Yet today some still believe that certain cosmetic products cause cancer due to their ingredients.
Now there hasn’t been enough research on this topic to completely rule it out but the most recent research showed no link at all. In fact, interestingly, the research actually showed a possible protective effect, which suggested that there may be other factors that accompany deodorant use that might be decreasing breast cancer risk, ie exercising regularly.
All cosmetics in the UK are tightly regulated and have to follow strict rules and guidelines which includes both the ingredients and production process.
Myth 5 – An unsupportive bra causes breast cancer
Not having great support from your bra isn’t the best thing for your breast but it does not increase your risk of developing breast cancer.
There hasn’t been much research into this specific myth because there is no scientific way breast cancer and an unsupportive bra can be linked.
Wearing a supportive bra is best for your overall breast health but it does not affect the likelihood of you developing breast cancer.
Myth 6 – Stress will increase your chances of developing the disease
It is unclear where this myth first originated from but there are some people who believe that stress is a main cause of breast cancer in women.
Stress is a natural element of life and it is completely impossible to avoid.
There have been numerous research projects carried out that look into the effect of stress and its relation to breast cancer with research showing weak evidence.
Stress can cause many other health-related issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and ulcers so it’s important to keep stress in your life to a minimum.
Myth 7 - Mammograms cause breast cancer
Mammograms are an x-ray of the breast which helps with the early detection of breast cancer.
Mammograms detect lumps well before they can be felt, and it is known that the earlier that lumps are caught, the better are the chances for survival.
Mammograms do emit radiation, which is why some believe they are bad, however, the amount of radiation is so small that the benefits far out way the risks. This is why mammograms are the leading tool for early detection of breast cancer in women.
Myth 8 – Having breast implants raises your risk
Women who have breast implants or have undergone breast augmentation surgery are at no greater risk of developing breast cancer.
It is true that mammograms are a little harder to conduct on women with implants but this does not mean cancer is undetectable, if needs be, doctors may want to conduct further x-rays so they can get a good view of the breast tissue.
Myth 9 – Women with small breasts have a lower risk of developing breast cancer
There is absolutely no connection between your breast size and your risk of developing breast cancer.
This means that women of all breast sizes should regularly be checking their breasts and attend regular screenings.
Myth 10 – Breast cancer is preventable
70% of all women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors. This means that the disease occurs largely by chance and according to as-yet-unexplained factors.
You can identify key risk factors such as not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly as well as being in the know about any family history and inherited gene mutations.
Aside from this, there is not much you can do to prevent breast cancer, but detecting it early can be crucial so make sure you are regularly checking your breasts and attending scheduled screenings with the doctor.
So there you have the top 10 breast cancer myths busted by us here at Boobuddy. For more information on breast cancer or your own breast health, please speak to your GP.